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Breaking In (A Movie Review)

Breaking In


Starring Gabrielle Union, Ajiona Alexus, Seth Carr, Billy Burke, Jason George, Richard Cabral, Levi Meaden, Damien Leake, Mark Furze and Christa Miller.

Screenplay by Ryan Engle.

Directed by James McTeigue.

Distributed by Universal Pictures. 88 minutes. Rated PG-13.

The tag line of Breaking In is “Payback is a mother,” and that tells you pretty much all you need to know about the film.

A 30-something middle class urban mom goes to clear out her estranged gangster dad’s huge woodland estate – complete with a state of the art security system. Turns out – bad timing – she and her kids show up to clear out the estate at the same time as a gang of crazy bad guys also want to “clear out” the place, tracking down a hidden safe that supposedly contains $4 million dollars. During the home invasion, they kidnap her kids and hold them hostage as leverage. But you don’t fuck with mom’s little babies, so she goes all Jackie Chan on their asses.

Yes. That’s right. A normal middle-aged, middle-class woman suddenly turns into a Navy Seal to defeat a bunch of guys who outnumber her, out-arm her, outweigh her, and have histories of criminal behavior. She has no phone, no tech savvy, no weapon, no training, no background in this stuff, no history of killing, and yet she proceeds to try to snuff the bad guys out one-by-one.

Sure, I’ll buy that.

Actually, it’s a pretty common storyline idea. Traffik, which came out on video just a few weeks ago has basically the same concept of a heretofore non-violent woman fighting off a deadly gang in a mansion in the woods, though that movie didn’t bring kids into the mix, just a loving boyfriend.

It’s kind of a ridiculous storyline, honestly. However, this kind of film can be done right.

Breaking In only partially gets it right. It does have some very tense, suspenseful sections, but the audience can’t help but notice that lots of the things that happen make no sense.

Not merely are they unlikely, they are probably pretty much impossible.

For example, how does a woman go from having her son have to explain how her iPhone works to mastering a complex computerized security system in a matter of hours?

And why would this high-tech, state of the art security system allow the thieves a 90-minute window of opportunity to rob the place before the police arrive – just by cutting the phone lines?

How does mom get onto the roof of a two-story house with no ladder – and with none of the bad guys hearing her?

Why does the electricity – not just the generator, but the full electricity – come back on so soon after the mom has thoroughly sabotaged the circuit breakers in the fuse box of the house?

Why does she have to work so hard to break into the impregnable house she has been kicked out of to save her kids, when it turns out that the front door was left unlocked?

Okay, fine, if you hold action films to tight plot logic, most will not pass the test. The real question is this: is it exciting? Is the situation tense enough that you will overlook some of the plot holes?

In the case of Breaking In, the answer is sometimes. On the plus side, Gabrielle Union makes a fierce action heroine and Billy Burke is always a welcome villain. The action, while not always realistic, is often rather gripping. If you give in to Breaking In’s fractured logic and ignore its flaws, it can be rather entertaining.

Just know what you are getting into.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2018 All rights reserved. Posted: August 6, 2018.

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